I’ve written a full analysis piece on why Mike Rizzo deserves most of the blame for this season going awry which came out on May 17th. In case you missed it, we can touch on the most critical points.
The bullpen is the obvious place to start. Rizzo has always believed in investing in the starting rotation and building a roster around that rotation. He did precisely that when he inked Patrick Corbin to a 6-year $140 million contract this offseason, which has looked like a good investment so far.
The puzzling part is that Rizzo has nearly $100 million invested in his starting rotation this season alone, while he has just $20 million total spent in the bullpen. Through 42 games, the Nationals bullpen ranks dead last in the Major Leagues with a 6.15 ERA.
Not investing in the bullpen has come back to bite Rizzo before and it appears that will be the case again this season.
The second major contributing factor to this season’s slow start has been the lack of organizational depth. There was nobody in the Minor Leagues that is prepared to step in when in injuries started to hit.
Wilmer Difo and Carter Kieboom have combined to hit .220/.282/.360 in Turner’s absence, while also playing sub-par defense. That can’t happen, that’s a black hole in the lineup. If you have Brian Dozier (another mistake), Difo and then the pitcher’s spot as your 7-9 in the order, then you have three places in the lineup that are hitting below .230.
The club also has no rotation depth since they’ve had to convert Erick Fedde and Joe Ross into relievers in hopes of stabilizing a terrible bullpen. With Anibal Sanchez getting hurt yesterday, either Fedde or Ross will now need to stretch back out to take Sanchez’s spot in the rotation, assuming he will be placed on the IL.
It’s challenging to win games when you have five of your everyday players on the IL. It becomes nearly impossible to win while those players are on the IL and when your organizational depth is non-existent.